Loving County (Mentone)
Year Built: 1935,
Architect: Evan J. Wood.
The tiny Loving County courthouse is located in the unincorporated town of Mentone, Texas. Mentone is the only town in Loving County. Loving County was formed in 1931 and is the least populous county in the United States. Its population as of the 2020 United States Census was 64 – yes sixty four!
This is the first and only permanent courthouse for Loving County. The two-story courthouse is the tallest building in the County and the only symbol of county government in Loving county.
The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 10, 2006.
From the Texas Historic Marker for Mentone (located in the parking area):
Only town in Loving County—last organized, most sparsely populated (both in total and per square mile) county in Texas.
Established 1931 and named for an earlier town (10 miles north) which legend says was named by a French surveyor-prospector after his home on the Riviera.
With population of 42, Mentone has no water system. (Water is hauled in.) Nor does it have a bank, doctor, hospital, newspaper, lawyer, civic club, or cemetery.
There are only two recorded graves in county; some Indian skeletons, artifacts are found.
Oil, farming, cattle county.
The other historic marker on the premises is for Oliver Loving, C.S.A., the County’s namesake:
Only Texan instrumental in mapping 3 major cattle trails: Shawnee, Western and Goodnight-Loving trails.
Born in Kentucky. Came to Texas 1845, to farm, haul freight, deal in cattle. Started large Palo Pinto County ranch. In 1858, drove herd to Chicago–first time in history Texas cattle trailed to northern market. In 1859 drove to Denver.
When Civil War broke out, 1861, was Confederate beef contractor, furnishing meat to army commissaries. Served on 24-hour patrol squad against Indians in frontier town of Weatherford. Mapped an 1862 expedition by 300 or more Texans to wipe out depredating Indians on the home grounds in Colorado, but failed to get necessary men to put this plan into action.
After the war, with Charles Goodnight, drove cattle from Palo Pinto to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos, then up the river to Indian reservations and forts in New Mexico. In 1867 on this trail, was shot by Comanches: crawled 5 miles, chewing an old kid glove for food. Hauled at price of $250 to Fort Sumner by Mexican traders, he had wounds treated, but died of gangrene. Partner packed corpse in charcoal, hauled him to Weatherford for burial, fulfilling last wish.
Loving County was named for him in 1887.